Tag Archives: Doug Mataconis

The Big Tent Penalty

Doug Mataconis reflects on Indiana Governor Mitch Daniel’s insistence on a “social truce” within the GOP:

In some ways, Daniels seems to be echoing the “big tent” ideas of people like Lee Atwater, who emphasized, correctly I think, that in order to win nationally the GOP needs to appeal to a wide array of voters. Daniels takes it one step further, though, by arguing that our fiscal issue are so urgent that the GOP needs to build a coalition of fiscal conservatives, which will, of necessity, include people who are not social conservatives and who do not believe that it is business of government to be imposing religious morality on the populace.

It makes perfect sense, really. It’s the kind of thing that might actually get me to vote Republican again. It is, in the end, the only way, the GOP is going to preserve the majorities in won in 2010. Which is exactly why the GOP won’t listen.

Here’s the video Doug is referring to:

I would say correct on both points.  Daniels is correct in his approach and Mataconis is correct that the GOP won’t listen.  But I think this is the case because there is no penalty for Republicans to support some of the most far right viewpoints.  Someone like Minnesota’s Michelle Bachmann gets praised for her views.  Very extreme pols get elected every year.  It pays to be a far right Republican.

Conversely, it’s rather deadly to be a centrist Republican.  Right now polling is showing that Maine moderate Olympia Snowe might face an uphill climb in 2012 running as a Republican.  However, he chances change running as an Independent.  In essence, there is a price to paid running in the GOP.  Folks like Dick Lugar and Scott Brown are also finding out it doesn’t pay to say nice things now and then about Democrats.

I think if those (including myself) who bemoan the rightward lurch of the GOP really want to change things, we have to make it painful to advocate positions that scare off moderates.  Until that artithmetic changes, I don’t think Daniel’s social truce is going anywhere.

More on Christine O’Donnell and the End of the Delware GOP

Doug Mataconis:

Delaware is a Blue State and it’s likely to be one for a long time, but there was a time when it did produce Republicans who were capable of winning statewide. Not just Mike Castle, but guys like William Roth and Pete duPont. Thanks to the damage that the party suffered in 2010, it’s going to be a long time before Delaware produces a candidate like that again.

The point here isn’t to kick Christine O’Donnell yet again, but to point out that there are consequences to nominating a candidate who has no realistic chance of winning a General Election. Not only do you lose the race itself, but you hurt your party in down ticket races.

The GOP could have taken the Senate had they ran more credible candidates in states like Delaware.  Indeed, the GOP establishment had supported a capable candidate in Mike Castle, but the Tea Party had other ideas and took a candidate that had a chance out of the running.

Which leads to this question: how does a party learn to control its more purist elements?  How can a party please its base and also reach beyond it?